If you often travel, especially internationally or across many time zones, you are probably familiar with jet lag.
However, what really is jet lag, and what can you do to minimize its effects? In this blog, we’ll dive into all things jet lag and how to fight this inconvenience.
Jet lag is a short-term sleep disorder caused by traveling across time zones. This is due to the disruption of your circadian rhythm, which can make you feel out of whack due to the sudden change in your internal clock.
Causes of jet lag
The main culprit contributing to this sleep disorder is the disruption of your circadian rhythm and your body’s internal wake-sleep cycle. Your circadian rhythm is synced to the time zone you live in, and when you travel to different time zones, your body is unable to adjust your circadian rhythm as fast as your body has traveled. Each additional time zone you cross increases the effects.
Air cabin pressure
According to research, traveling by airplane can increase the symptoms of jet lag because of the changes in cabin pressure and high altitude, regardless of the number of time zones crossed.
Due to low humidity levels in planes, you are at a greater risk of dehydration which is known to contribute to certain symptoms of jet lag.
Symptoms of jet lag
There are an array of symptoms you may experience, but a few of the most common are:
- Early waking
- Daytime drowsiness
- Inability to focus
- Changes in mood
- Lack of focus
- Time zones crossed
- Flying east vs. west
- Frequency of flying
Fighting jet lag
The inconvenience of not sleeping can be incredibly frustrating, especially when traveling for work or vacation. By following these tips, you can give yourself the best chance possible to minimize its effects on your next trip.
When possible, try adjusting your current schedule to the schedule you’ll follow on your trip. This may include going to bed or eating at different times than you normally would. Changing your schedule prior to your trip will help your body become more accustomed to the new time zone you’ll enter after traveling.
Arrive a day earlier
Arriving a day or two earlier than needed can give your body a chance to reset to the new time zone and can help diminish the effects felt for the remainder of your trip.
Exposure to sunlight
Exposure to light is one of the main influences on your body’s internal clock, so getting out in the sun can help alert your body to keep moving. In addition, when traveling west, exposure to light later in the day can help you adjust to your new time zone and the opposite for when you travel east.
Drinking plenty of water will help you stay hydrated and minimize the effects of jet lag after long flights. It is also recommended to avoid drinks that contribute to dehydration, such as caffeine and alcohol.
You’ll want to ensure you’re adequately rested before and during your flight. Sleeping on the plane can aid your body in adjusting faster to a new time zone, and by getting quality sleep the days before, you’ll set yourself up for success in fighting any potential jet lag.
Although temporary jet lag can majorly affect your sleep and mood, following these simple tips and tricks can help alleviate the effects and make for a more enjoyable trip. For more sleep tips and advice, check out our sleep blog, where we talk all things sleep and dive into industry hop topics!